American History

Explore the development of the United States with this collection of articles about American history. Topics in this section include the American Revolution, the gold rush and the expansion of the West.


William McKinley was popular, successful, re-elected and assassinated. He shaped money's influence in politics, and transformed the United States into an international power. Why isn't the 25th president better known?

Was our current era defined by the introduction of the iPhone, the hashtag, and a professional wrestling appearance by a future U.S. president?

It made geographical sense for Russia to sell its territory of Alaska to Canada, but it opted to sell it to the U.S. instead. But why?

During America's War for Independence, the British promised enslaved Africans their freedom if they'd join their side. Thousands signed up.

Has a nuclear bomb ever been dropped on the United States? Well, it happened back in the 1950s. But... it was an accident.

The Wild West legend's life has been romanticized and colored with exaggeration. But that doesn't mean her story isn't fascinating.

The tension between the U.S. and USSR was palpable — and nearly devastating, thanks to some nuclear-tipped torpedoes and itchy trigger fingers.

Treasure hunter Tommy Thompson claims he can't remember where he put 3 tons of gold from the shipwreck of the S.S. Central America. The courts don't believe him.

A Wild West governor once wore a pair of shoes made of the skin of an executed felon named Big Nose George. The gruesome but true story is predictably involved.

Ethnic brand identities and mascots affect people with different political leanings in surprising ways, at times increasing associations with Native American stereotypes.

In 1985, the Hanshin Tigers won the Japanese World Series. In the ensuing celebration, though, a statue of Colonel Sanders was drowned, and the team hasn't won since.

Rainbow parties in the 1960s may sound like good fun, but the frivolity actually centered around an H-bomb radiating the Earth's atmosphere.

Folk hero Johnny Appleseed planted apple trees across the United States during the mid-1800s. Can you actually take a bite out of history and pick an apple from one of those trees today?

Forget George Washington’s cherry tree and Ben Franklin’s inveterate womanizing. You're about to meet patriots you've never heard of, plus a few you thought you knew.

In the early 1800s, the United States witnessed the birth of the railroad industry and along with it, dramatic changes in American society and business. What was life like before and after the railroads?

The railroad expansion of the 1800s changed America forever. By 1900, the people North America had settled a continent that previous generations had thought would take a thousand years to occupy.

The turn of the century brought a new wave of optimism and amazing new technologies. It was also a time of unprecedented expansion in the railroad industry -- until World War I arrived.

Railroads of the 1920s reflected a time of uncertainty in the industry at the time. Technology greatly improved train transportation, but the Great Depression brought about a bust in the industry. Learn more about the railroads of the 1920s.

Donner Party, a group of 89 California-bound emigrants who suffered one of the starkest tragedies of the westward movement.

By the 1960s the lonesome whistle of the steam railroads was a thing of the past. The decline of railroads came about during the 1960s and 1970s as the automobile dominated transportation.

Railroads of the 1990s explains the history of American railroads through the 1990s. Technological advancements have shaped the railroads of this decade. Learn about the history of railroads of the 1990s.

Famous locomotives, such as the John Bull locomotive, have helped shape the history of American railroads. These trains are well-known to many railroad historians. Learn more about some famous locomotives.

Shortline railroads were slowly abandoned as truck shipping became more accepted. Fortunately, smaller railroads are causing shortlines to become popular once again. Learn more about the history of shortline railroads.

The Fair of the Iron Horse was a huge railroad exhibit that was held in 1927 just outside of Baltimore. It was meant to celebrate the success of the B&O railroad. Learn about the Fair of the Iron Horse.

Railroad songs reflect America's fascination with the railroad over the years. These songs celebrate the rich history of the American railroad. Learn more about some of the different railroad songs.